Skip to Content

BookExpo and a new Children's Laureate

5 June 2017

BookExpo and the appointment of a new UK Children's Laureate have dominated the book trade news agenda this week.

BookExpo's move to York last week was reckoned to be a great improvement over Chicago. The Adult Editors' Book Buzz was standing room only, but why were the books chosen all published by the Big Five? Future changes to the convention are intended to attract greater engagement with the public - at the moment it is very much a trade fair.

Jo Henry of Nielsen UK reported that use of smartphones for reading books, comics and magazines has nearly doubled amongst 0-17 year-olds in the UK since 2014. Although listening to music is the primary activity among children up to 17, when audiobooks are included reading and being read to becomes the top channel.

As we have previously reported, the children's print market in the US grew faster than the overall market in 2013-16.

There was however a decline in sales of YA books, probably because of the lack of super-selling YA series, which affected young adults' purchasing but also the extent to which adult readers picked up the books.

Meanwhile in the UK the week was marked (aside from the election) by the announcement of the new Waterstones Children's Laureate, Lauren Child, following the lively tenure of children's illustrator Chris Riddell.

Child, a former artist's assistant to Damien Hirst, is celebrated not only for creating her own books, but translating them into other media - most significantly in her role as associate producer of global hit television series Charlie and Lola, based on her bestselling books. She said: 'I want to inspire children to believe in their own creative potential, to make their own stories and drawings and ignite in them the delight of reading for pleasure. In an increasingly fast paced world, children need the freedom to dream and imagine; to enjoy reading, drawing and telling their own stories without value judgement or restraint.

'My books have taken inspiration from many different art forms - from the illustrations of E.H. Shepard through Scandinavian design, dolls houses and miniatures as well as the films of Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock. Now I would like to focus on building stronger links between the world of children's literature and other art forms such as fine art, film, music, television and design.'